Mystery of the Sailing Stones: Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Racetrack Playa

Located in Death Valley, California – one of The 5 Hottest Places in the World – is Racetrack Playa. It is located in the Panamint Mountains and is a seasonally dry lake. With the Cottonwood Mountains to the east and the Last Chance Range to the west, the only water that sits in the lake comes from heavy rains that flow down from the mountain’s slopes. The water quickly evaporates, leaving a layer of mud which dries and cracks into interlocking hexagons on the flat dried-lake floor.

Sailing StoneWhat’s so special about Racetrack Playa, Death Valley?

Racetrack Playa is best known for its “sailing stones” or “wandering stones.” A natural geological phenomenon, the stones in this dried up lake are known to move completely on their own from one place to another – with the tracks to prove it.

The Wandering or Sailing Stones of Racetrack Playa

A hoax, you say? Maybe it’s aliens?

Rightfully classified as a geological phenomenon, the stones move incredibly slowly across the lake’s floor, leaving its path’s trail along in the dried mud. There is no animal or human intervention. This phenomenon can be observed in several other “playas” in the region but it is at the Racetrack Playa that the stone’s trails are the most noticeable.

The stones move once every two or three years and oddly enough, the tracks from the stone’s movements remained etched on the lake’s floor for three to four years.

It is thought that the stones are moved by strong winds when there’s been enough rain to cause the lake’s floor surface to change from dry hardened mud to slippery clay.

If you’re visiting San Diego, Long Beach, San Jose, San Francisco in California or Las Vegas, Nevada, don’t forget to visit Death Valley National Park and see these “living stones.”

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